Interview with Kamm and MacDonald
The following interview was conducted via e-mail between the Editor of Prospector, Pam Jung, and the artists, Paul Kamm and Eleanore MacDonald.
Pam Jung: What are a couple of your favorite songs you’ll sing Thursday and why are they favorites?
Paul Kamm and Eleanore MacDonald: Well we have a new song we’ll be playing, ‘From the Fire’, in honor of Utah Phillips. Different songs are favorites for different reasons, but the new songs are a bit like fresh garden vegetables and make the rest of the meal taste better somehow. Speaking of which, we do enjoy singing a song called ‘The Dark Seed’ which is a tribute to sustainable agriculture in a world that seems driven to dominate nature using questionable science.
PJ: How do you write; explain the process please.
PK & EM: The process, or our process, really kind of defies explanation. We can say, though, that after working together for so long, we’ve learned to trust what the other has to offer when it comes to editing. It often can be difficult for us to know what’s helping or hurting a song, whether it be the words or the music – ultimately serving the song is more the point than serving ourselves. So it can become a huge editing process. Other songs Ð they just seem to be born effortlessly, they don’t need to be encouraged or yanked with forceps. They just come, and they are what they are.
PJ: What inspires you?
PK & EM: Hope for a better world inspires us… the fact that every day can dawn with entirely new possibilities inspires us….activists inspire us… the children growing up with peace, the earth and humanity on all levels in mind, inspire us… and the Aegean Sea inspires us.
PJ: You call your work modern folk music. Would you give us a definition of that?
PK & EM: The definition of ‘folk music’ will change depending on who you talk to. Modern folk music, to us, is simply music that carries on the tradition of telling stories about the human condition, without holding it’s tongue the way ‘pop music’ tends to and without the girdles it’s Grandmamma ‘folk music’ had to wear!
Truth be told, years ago we were told that we needed a ‘category’ in order to succeed in the business of making music. So, defying any existing labels, we came up with our own, ‘neo-impressionist folk music’. We grew a bit weary of having to explain what that meant – so, now it’s ‘modern folk music.’ Haven’t had to change that one, yet! But then that old, haunting question of ‘what is folk music’ keeps coming ’round…
PJ: What about Nina and performing with her do you like so much?
The thing about Nina Gerber is not just that she’s a super incredible guitar player, but she also listens with her heart to whomever she’s accompanying. She seems to channel not only her own inspiration on stage, but that of the other musicians as well. We’ve also never done a show with her when we didn’t say ‘WOW…how’d you do that?’ She has played with everyone from Kate Wolf to Jackson Browne, and we are honored to share the stage with her.
PJ: Would you tell us something about your new CD coming up?
PK & EM: All we have to say about the new CD, our 9th, is ‘thank you’ to all those supportive folks who have leant us an ear all these years, and for bringing friends along when you come to see us again. Also, thanks for waiting! “Notes From an Endless Sea” will be worth it, we promise.
PJ. Personal: I know you and Eleanor live in Penn Valley. Anything to add?
PK & EM: Personal….Private. We are indeed married but that is all of the personal information we really care to give.
PJ: What would youl like to say that I haven’t asked?
PK & EM: Toot toot, though we hate, hate, hate tooting our own horn, other notes of interest might be: That we have been performing together consistently for 27 years; we’ve recorded eight albums since 1987 (when CDs were just a twinkle in the music loving public’s eye! Our first recording came out initially on cassette tape.); we’ve toured nationally and in Europe; we perform in Greece while we are there to write every year, and our songs are played on community, college, internet and public radio worldwide ” blah blah blah…
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